Recorded Statement: Declining is not hiding something
So you had a car accident or you were hurt at work and the insurance company begins contactiing you. There is some urgency to their calls and you yourself feel a sense of urgency because you are now out of work and haven't any idea when you will see another paycheck. Your spouse is getting nervous about the mortgage payment next month and the grocery stores won't be giving away free food any time soon. So you return the insurance adjuster's call, he or she is the one who works for some company that is not yours.
To get ready for the call you dig out the letter you received saying they have been put on notice of your claim. The letter has a claim number and an adjuster's name with his phone number at the bottom. You dial the number thinking this will be a pleasant discussion where the adjuster will quickly realize you are an honest person who knows very little about claims work or the law and they will then treat you fairly. Of course you've never done this before so you aren't really sure what he will ask you. And you think, "Just tell the truth."
The first thing he says to you after hello is about a recorded statement. You hear those words and realize whoops, I have no clue about whether or not I have to give a "recorded statement". And you think, what if I say something wrong? What then? This happens every day so rest assured you are not the first person to be wondering about how to handle it. Let us look at the scenario.
First, a recorded statement does not have to be immediately given before you have had an opportunity to speak with your attorney. Giving a statement right then is not required and if you are placed in this position you should politely decline until you speak with an attorney. There is nothing to "hide", there is everything to be advised about before you go an put your foot in your mouth. This is exactly what the adjusters want you to do.
I want you to see the trick they use to deny you an opportunity to understand the claims process or your legal rights before they conduct the interview. This next example happens at least one hundred times a year in my practice. So follow it carefully; it is not complicated.
The clients tell me the adjuster will say, "If you won’t give me a recorded statement you must be hiding something." The client feeling embarrassed believes his giving a statement, right then, is required and he having nothing to hide, thinks so why shouldn't I? First, a recorded statement right then is not required and if you are put in this position you should politely decline until you speak with an attorney.
This is a technique insurance adjusters use to embarrass you into giving a statement before consulting with a lawyer. Trust me when I say insurance adjuster consult with an attorney when they themselves have a personal injury claim. The CEO of every major insurance company has a cadre of lawyers to give them advice in their personal lives. You have that same right. So, decline their invitation until you have time to speak with a lawyer. No one has to give a statement immediately and certainly not before receiving legal advice.
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